Enjoying a delicious brew is more than just taste and smell. How your beer looks matters, too. This is especially true when you’re showing off your product online, where a person can’t taste or smell it. These beer photography tips will help you take better photos of your beer. Use these tips when publishing photos on social media, and your beer will look great.
Beer Photography Tip 1 – Understand Your Lighting
No matter how great of a camera you have, nothing beats Mother Nature for creating a good photo. Cameras, after all, are judged by their ability to capture natural light. They don’t create the magic; they just make sure that none of the magic gets lost.
Using Natural Lighting
- Natural light is always better than inside lighting, plus the scenery is better outside is a great backdrop. Get outside!
- Go outside during the “Golden Hours” for best results – 30 minutes after sunrise or 30 minutes before sunset. You will get some beautiful inspiration during these naturally colorful times in nature.
- For darker beers, make sure that the light source is in front of the beer; light beers should have the light shining through the glass. You can maneuver your positioning to catch the best effects when you exercise this technique.
- Ensuring the light source is not behind the beer means that you may have to maneuver the sun to your back. Basically, make sure that you are in between the sun and the beer, and you are facing away from the sun. This will make all the difference, so take the time to make this happen.
Using Inside Lighting
- If you must shoot inside, keep in mind that your goal is to imitate natural lighting as much as possible. Shoot close to a window if possible. Natural light is exponentially brighter than even the brightest light bulbs and flashes, and you will get a much better picture with the power of the sun. Get as much natural light into the room as you can.
- Keep in mind that natural lighting is the most powerful light source in your picture, and it will create the shadows that will define the picture. If you catch an angle that creates too powerful of a shadow, change the location of the natural light to the subject.
- Never use overhead lighting. This is the same technique that professional photographers stick to when shooting people, and the same reasoning applies to beers. Overhead lighting is the least flattering for any subject, and at best, it does not help. Reposition your beer so that it is never directly under the lights in your ceiling.
- If you are using a phone as your camera, make sure that you always use the HDR setting. Never use the flash – wait until you have more light in the room or move the subject to a better natural lighting source.
- You can accentuate certain features of your brew with a small LED flashlight shined behind the glass. This is not a substitute for the main light source; look at it like an accent marker that you can experiment with.
Beer Photography Tip 2 – Understand Composition
Although you can experiment with the composition of your picture even more than the lighting, there are certain tried and true tropes that just work better. Here are some rules from top photographers that you should take into account when capturing your brews.
- Contrary to popular belief, you do not want your main subject to be fully centered in your photo. It is playing on subtle psychology, but off center images create tension and dynamism in a good way. Also, keeping your beer off center gives you an ability to place awesome things in the background.
- Make sure that the items that you use in the background uphold the brand that your brewery is trying to cultivate. For instance, if you have a beachside brewery, then a fish and angle might be fun to use as a background item.
- Pick a corner of the photo and put interesting background elements there to fill out the photo without creating clutter.
- Balance your photo by placing one major background element opposite the brew.
- When you are putting elements into your photo, there is no need to go overboard. Simple is better. Think of the ordinary to get something extraordinary out of the total photo.
- Set up all of the background elements in your photo before you pour your beer. The reason that all those cheap beers look so good in their commercials is that they do not lose the head or the crispiness of the fresh pour before the picture is snapped!
- Pour your beer aggressively, right down the middle of the glass. Maximize the head on the beer as much as possible so you have more time to take your photos. This is especially important for sour beers and stouts, which tend to dissipate fast.
- The best pictures are usually taken at eye level, straight with the level of the brew. Yes, this means that you may have to get on the floor in order to get the best shot.
Beer Photography Tip 3 – After the Snap
Once you have taken your masterpiece, you need to incorporate it into your website in an effective way. You can also use these photos to raise your presence on social media and promote individual events. Creating dynamic menus, increasing the click through rate on your website and improving its visibility in the major search engines are just a few of the advantages you now have with great looking photos of your brews.
Managing all of this content is a lot of work, especially if you are trying to run a brewery day to day. However, there are plenty of techniques that you can use to minimize the time that you spend managing your website and social media. To help with this, I created this 3-step email series to help guide you with running your websites more efficiently. This will help you make use of those beautiful images you worked so hard to take.
Experiment with your photos and do not be afraid to take many shots of the same brew until you get the perfect image. Use the tips above to bolster your efforts. Most importantly, have a great time. Believe it or not, this will come through in your shoot!